Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Unwilling to consider

"How Corporate Media Got the Trump-Kim Summit All Wrong" (Porter) (my emphasis in red):
"One of the few Americans who can speak with authority on North Korea’s calculus regarding nuclear weapons is Joel S. Wit, who was senior adviser to the U.S. negotiator with North Korea, Ambassador Robert L. Gallucci, from 1993 to 1995, and who from 1995 to 1999 was coordinator for the 1994 “Agreed Framework” with North Korea. More importantly, Wit also participated in a series of informal meetings with North Korean officials in 2013 about North Korea’s thinking on its nuclear weapons.

At a briefing on the Trump-Kim summit last week sponsored by the website 38 North, which he started and still manages, Wit made it clear that this dismissal of North Korea’s willingness to agree to denuclearization is misguided. “Everyone underestimates the momentum behind what North Korea is doing,” he said. “It’s not a charm offensive or a tactical trick.”

Wit revealed in an article last month that the North Koreans had informed the American participants in those 2013 meetings that Kim was already anticipating negotiations with the United States in which North Korea would agree to give up nuclear weapons in return for steps by the United States that removed its threatening posture toward North Korea. Wit said his North Korean interlocutors had pointed to a June 2013 statement by the National Defense Commission of North Korea—the nation’s highest policymaking body—which they stated emphatically had been ordered by Kim himself to indicate a readiness to negotiate with the United States on denuclearization. The statement declared, “The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the behest of our leader” and “must be carried out . . . without fail.” And it went on to urge “high-level talks between the DPRK [North Korea] and the U.S. authorities to . . . establish peace and security in the region.”

The statement came a few months after Kim had resumed nuclear testing in an intensive effort to establish a credible nuclear deterrent. In part that was because of the young Kim’s conviction that the United States believed it could “bully” his regime in the transition after Kim father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011, according to Wit’s North Korean interlocutors.

But those same North Korean officials also told Wit that the new buildup would be of limited duration—only until it became possible to improve relations with the United States. That explanation suggested that Kim was pursuing a military capability primarily to serve as an incentive for Washington to come to the negotiating table and as a set of bargaining chips to obtain what it really wanted—an end to the hostile policy toward the regime by the United States.

Wit revealed that in the private meetings with Americans, North Korean officials presented a concrete plan for a three-phase agreement with the United States on denuclearization in which each side would undertake a set of related steps simultaneously. The American participants were told that the first stage of North Korea’s implementation would be a freeze on its nuclear weapons development, followed by disabling key facilities and finally dismantling the facilities as well the nuclear weapons. The U.S. steps would include diplomatic recognition, ending economic sanctions and removing the U.S. military threat to North Korea, in part by finally bringing the Korean War to a formal conclusion.

It was the same approach to a denuclearization agreement to which North Korea had agreed in 1994 and again in 2005 and 2007, but which had failed primarily because of the reluctance of the Clinton and Bush administrations to commit to entering into a normal political and economic relationship with North Korea.

The political context for U.S.-North Korean negotiations has changed dramatically since 2013. The most obvious change is that North Korea has an ICBM capable of reaching the United States for the first time. Although it provoked threats by the Trump administration in 2017 to attack North Korea if it completed work on the ICBM, it also has prompted the White House to consider going further than previous administrations in meeting North Korean diplomatic demands.

Furthermore, in 2013, the South Korean government was hostile to diplomacy with the North, and the Obama administration was unwilling to consider any major political or security concessions to North Korea until after it had given up its nuclear weapons. Now South Korean President Moon Jae-in has gone further than any previous government in pushing to end the 70-year military tension and formal state of war between North and South. Moon’s commitment to a Korean peace agreement appears to be the single biggest reason that Kim switched gears so dramatically in a New Year’s Day speech that presaged dramatic diplomatic moves in 2018.

Reflecting the new political-diplomatic situation, in April Kim put forward a new strategic line calling for the bulk of the state’s resources to go to economic development. That replaced the bjungjin line that Kim had introduced in March 2013 putting economic rebuilding and military needs on an equal footing.

Kim has made major adjustments in the North Korean negotiating posture that prevailed when the 2013 meetings were held with nonofficial Americans. The North Koreans had insisted then that the United States would have to remove their troops from South Korea as part of any agreement, according to Wit. But that demand has now been dropped, as Moon told Trump in mid-April."
"Trump And Kim Sign "Comprehensive" Letter To End Historic Summit, Agree To "Follow-On" Negotiations" (Durden).

"Trump Announces The End Of Joint War Games With South Korea" (Durden): "unspecified security guarantees".

"'He Made North Korea Great Again': Twitter Erupts At Trump-Kim NoKo Show" (Red Painter).  Tweet (Mark Sleboda) (link doesn't work but he is referring to tweets like this):
"I'm having a hard time differentiating between the bitter neocons and the outraged "liberals" on outbreak of peace w North Korea...not for the first time either https://twitter.com/brianklaas/status/1006456383062138880 …"
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